The Morning Investment

The Morning Investment

Although I had nannied quite a bit before having children, I was definitely struck in the early days of motherhood by how much harder it was for me to simultaneously take care of a child and run a home than to do either one on its own.  I could keep a perfect house like nobody’s business (I laugh when I think back to how clean our first apartment was!), and I had been an in-demand babysitter for a decade.  The struggle was, and continues to be, how to balance caring for my kids and caring for my home.  When I read to them all day, the house is a disaster zone.  When I go on a cleaning or baking frenzy, the kids who are too little to help tend to feel neglected.

When I was pregnant with T, I used to go spend Tuesday mornings with my friend Kristin, who had a toddler and was already working on the mommy/homemaker balancing act.  I was struck by her explanation that if she invested time with her daughter in the morning, J was happy to hang out for quite a while and play with herself while watching Mommy cook/clean/work on sewing projects for her home business.  I’ve found this practice to be very helpful with my kids.  A typical morning investment at our house looks like me sitting down after breakfast to read to the kids for half an hour instead of checking my email or cleaning the kitchen.  After I’ve read a few books or chapters with the kiddos snuggled up next to me on the couch, I transition them to another activity—maybe the girls want to play in their play kitchen, or maybe everyone is inspired to color.  While they’re occupying themselves, I can grab the time to finish washing up the breakfast dishes, shower (on a good day), get dressed, and maybe fold some laundry.  Of course, I don’t neglect them for the rest of the day, but if I’m disciplined, I can get a lot done before they need me again.

On the days when I launch into my own list-of-things-to-do without spending some quality time with the kids, I find that they’re constantly following me around, demanding my attention.  I’m annoyed that they’re needy, I respond poorly, they get upset, and I don’t actually accomplish much.  I’ve been doing that too much lately, so I’m determined to rededicate myself to the morning investment this week.  First on my list of things to do is “Read to the kids!!”  Anyone care to join me?

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8 Responses to The Morning Investment

  1. chrisinnm says:

    Lovely– and for those homeschooling, that investment is still important, and can be worked into the warp-and-woof of the daily school schedule as well. A dear friend of mine has written extensively about what she calls “Morning Time” as a liturgy for beginning your day. You can read more about it here: http://www.ordo-amoris.com/p/morning-time-where-to-begin.html

    • Emily says:

      Thanks for the link, Chris! I’m looking forward to checking out more of her blog now. And yes–I’ve found that homeschooling days go much better when I invest some time in my littles first!

  2. KC says:

    Maybe God is trying to tell me something, b/c I just read about morning time on the blog linked to above within the last week. I am *trying* to be disciplined about doing more at night so that I can start the morning without going mentally crazy b/c of the condition of the house, but getting through dinner and bedtime and then trying to get the baby to sleep often means I just want to sit on the couch and work rather than be up and about cleaning and tidying!

  3. Christina says:

    love this Emily. yes, this is important and if you have a student like G for whom school in the afternoon is near impossible, making the most of the morning hours is critical. B is at the age now I need to include investment time with him too. This basically means delaying starting school by half an hour every morning. Of course, this week with the time change we’re all up by 5 anyway so need for delay! 😉

  4. Christina says:

    oh, and thanks for the link, Chris! You’re the second person who’s popped me over to her site recently. I keep meaning to stay there and look around. This is definitely where I am – “If you have something that you want your children to assimilate like poetry or scripture or music or Shakespeare, forget the grand schemes, forget what the Konos mom is doing down the street, start giving that thing one or two minutes of your time daily and watch the years roll by.” mmmm, so good. (And next time we’re in LA, please let’s get together.)

  5. Sara F. says:

    What a great idea! When I had my second, my pediatrician recommended that I set a timer and spend 15 minutes of “special time” with my oldest. It was amazing how that small amount of uninterrupted time made such a big difference! 🙂

  6. Emily Cook says:

    Absolutely fantastic advice! It is so diffficult to balance all of these things. I think sometimes, when I allow myself to get too preoccupied with the stuff that needs to be done, the youngest ones actually feel unsettled. It’s almost like they’re asking, “is mama really there for me?” and they ask by being needy, whiney, etc. It’s amazing how giving them a mere 15 minutes of focused attention seems to put their fears to rest.

  7. Christie says:

    Thanks so much for this! I have heard of it recently as well and am definitely going to give it a try. And my kids love Ranger Rick, too. = )

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